Key General Defends the 'Gitmo' Way ; in an Interview, General Miller Defends His Command and Addresses Abuses at Abu Ghraib

Article excerpt

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, a controversial figure in the prison- abuse probes, vehemently denies that detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were tortured under his command and expressed disappointment that his recommendations for garnering better intelligence in Iraq were not fully implemented.

General Miller also states he would be "glad" to submit to questioning from defense lawyers for US soldiers accused of abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib, after a military judgeordered him and three other US Army officers - including top Middle East commander Gen. John Abizaid - to do so last week.

"Anything that can help, I'll do it," says Miller, who oversees all US military detention operations in Iraq, where some 4,000 to 5,000 people are now in custody at a dozen centers. Defense lawyers for the seven soldiers charged so far in the case argue that the chain of command created an environment where soldiers believed abuse was acceptable.

"I'm a senior leader and I'm glad to help," Miller told the Monitor before stepping off a Black Hawk helicopter for a weekly stay at Abu Ghraib.

Miller says he spends the night weekly at Abu Ghraib, sleeping in an old cell of the prison that was infamous for its torture chambers under Saddam Hussein and is now at the heart of a scandal that has tainted the image of US forces in Iraq. "I live out here about one night a week. It's all about senior leaders being out here with the soldiers," said the general, who says he sleeps in the cell to avoid displacing soldiers at the crowded facility.

Miller is regarded as a central figure in the prison case because of his role in attempting to transfer lessons in intelligence gathering and interrogation from the detention facility at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo to Iraq. Miller ran the Guantanamo operation from November 2002 until he took up his Iraq post in April 2004.

The US did not grant the roughly 600 detainees at Guantanamo formal protection under the Geneva Conventions, as it has for all detainees in Iraq except alleged terrorists.

Miller said that declassified US government documents would show the "terrible scrutiny paid" to the legality of interrogation methods used at Guantanamo, reiterating that he spent a great deal of time with lawyers on that subject.

"There was no torture at Guantanamo," he said, adding, "I'm proud of everything done at Guantanamo" and also of the work he has led in Iraq.

Miller briefed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during his tenure at Guantanamo on successes, including the "extraordinarily valuable intelligence" being extracted from detainees there. …


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